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Charlie comments on patriotism

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Charlie sums up the way I feel about tea...and coffee, and let's not forget (false) patriotism.

Jolly good, chaps.

Right on Dude!

You betcha, mate.

We Aussies are still basically trying to work out if we should drink tea or coffee, but I'm afraid the coffee is winning.

Our saving grace is that we really try to avoid taking anything too seriously... unless it's absolutely necessary as in the case of, "a fair go for all."

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Here in the American South there are still retail stores where, when you walk in, a salesperson uncaps a bottle of 'Co cola' and offers it to you. That's the local pronunciation for Coca-Cola, our mainstay drink. Tea only comes as an iced drink, although it is consumed year-round: "Do you want sweetened or unsweetened?" Principal method of presweetening is with Karo syrup, and it is served in the home and in restaurants at every meal.

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I like iced tea, but can't drink it the way it's served in the South. Sweet tea, or swee-tea as I've heard it pronounced, is so full of sugar as to rot your teeth if you don't brush twice after ingesting it. I've often seen southerners pouring about half the sugar contain into their glass, and leave a sugar pile about three inches deep in the bottom of the glass. Remarkable.

Iced tea is best with no sugar at all and just a squeeze or two of lemon.

C

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I worked as a waiter in a large hotel when I was in college (1979) and on my first day after training, a large group of guests from New York were seated in my section. I was not a drinker at the time (my vices at that age were limited to cannabis and hot guys like Rafael), and my liquor training at the hotel was not as broad as it should have been. My group ordered six "teas," and so being a good Southern boy, I brought six iced teas, much to their amusement. It would seem that when an Englishman orders tea, he wants that warm, leafy water--as Charlie's friend described it. When an American Southerner orders tea, they want iced tea. When a New Yorker orders tea-or at least these New Yorkers- they are referring to Long Island Tea, which is an obnoxious concoction of every clear liquor you can find with a splash of Coke and "sweet and sour," all of which combines into a horrid mess that leaves me-when I am stupid enough to drink it- lying in the corner and vomiting on my myself as I beg for death to relieve me of my misery. It was a particularly humiliating experience for me because as I hurried away from the table to replace their iced teas with Long Island Teas, one of the men laughed and said, "Well, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy."

Not long after that, however, we had the most delightful English couple staying at the hotel. I had nicknamed them "Nigel and Daphne", which they quite enjoyed because, by an amazing coincidence, at their last dinner at the hotel they told me those were their actual names. So, the first evening I waited on them, they ordered tea and I brought them hot tea. Irony of ironies, they actually wanted iced tea because they were curious about this American abomination of their national drink and wanted to see what it was like.

I must admit that I love iced tea, though I've never put sugar in it--and certainly not Karo. I like it plain with lemon, as Cole describes. There are times when I try hot tea, but like Charlie's friend, it just tastes like warm, nasty water. It appears that my Anglophilia isn't all that strong.

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Here in the American South there are still retail stores where, when you walk in, a salesperson uncaps a bottle of 'Co cola' and offers it to you. That's the local pronunciation for Coca-Cola, our mainstay drink.

I grew up in Tampa, where the common request would be "gimme an RC-Co-Cola and a Moom' Pah!"

It's true that in parts of the South, all soft drinks are referred to as "Cokes." Often the waitress would ask, "y'all want a Coke? What kind?"

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Yes, but sadly it's market share has been greatly diluted and many Southern boys grow up on a diet of Mountain Dew instead, beginning with a can of Dew for breakfast.

RC has innovated many shifts in the soft drink industry: Their own homepage tells us that 'In 1954, the company became the first to nationally distribute soft drinks in cans, and would later be the first to use all-aluminum cans. Four years later, the company introduced the 16-ounce bottle.

In terms of beverages, RC produced the first low-calorie diet cola (Diet Rite), the first caffeine-free diet cola (RC 100) and the first diet cherry cola (Diet Cherry RC).

The RC Cola brand was acquired in October 2000 by London-based Cadbury Schweppes. Today, RC Cola is part of Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group, an integrated refreshment beverage business marketing more than 50 beverage brands throughout North America.'

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Wow! Thanks. It's been over 50 years since I had an RC cola. They were common when I was a boy in Indiana.

C

I don't know how long it's been since I last had one, but I remember drinking RC cola while growing up in Indiana too.

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Yes, but sadly it's market share has been greatly diluted and many Southern boys grow up on a diet of Mountain Dew instead, beginning with a can of Dew for breakfast.

God, I did that for 15 years, because my best friend from Florida drank Mountain Dew by the case. I eventually stopped it because my doctor said I was killing myself with the caffeine. I used to do what I called "a poor man's Speedball," which was Mountain Dew + a Vivarin. Kept me going for hours, working on bad TV shows late at night.

I must admit that I love iced tea, though I've never put sugar in it--and certainly not Karo. I like it plain with lemon, as Cole describes. There are times when I try hot tea, but like Charlie's friend, it just tastes like warm, nasty water. It appears that my Anglophilia isn't all that strong.

You want unusual tea, try it in Asia. I had quite a bit of it in Japan, and they like it very weak there, served in special ceramic cups, all done in a very special ceremonial way. They seemed to frown on tea & sugar, so I just had it straight and put up with it. I suspect I'm more a coffee guy, but I don't even do that very much.

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Charlie is a very stereotypical Englishman. And very entertaining.

Tea is a big subject for a Brit. Rick likes PG Tips, and he takes it black with sugar. PG Tips is a very popular mass market brand of 'standard' black tea from the Indian subcontinent. It's named after the practice of harvesting only the delicate new growth from the tips of the tea bushes. Some of the finest tea of that type comes from Sri Lanka and is still known as Ceylon tea although the country changed its name years ago. The tea industry in Asia is heavily geared to serve the British market and a number of specialist teas were created by the British, Earl Grey for instance, which has added Oil of Bergamot to give it a taste and aroma all its own.

China has its own tea tradition and their tea is quite different. It rarely comes in tea bags, and does come in the most surprising variety of flavours, from smoked fish to old socks. Try Lapsang Souchong, or Formosa Oolong. Once tried, never forgotten.

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